Schneider Electric: Turning today’s risk into tomorrow’s opportunity
The industrial landscape today is plagued with complex energy management challenges. Businesses are under increasing pressure to meet tight production demands while delivering quality goods and services, at a lower cost, with minimum impact on the environment. Schneider Electric is a global specialist in energy management and offers its clients solutions and services from a device level all the way to an enterprise level.
The company’s suite of solutions and team of experts can provide clients with real insight into energy consumption. Armed with this knowledge, their clients can identify possible savings - and with Schneider’s help - can balance their energy costs and production goals. Not only can Schneider help reduce costs by optimizing its clients’ energy needs, but it can also improve the overall efficiency of individual enterprises.
Schneider Electric is a global organization, employing in excess of 170,000 individuals with an annual turnover of approximately €25 billion (USD $26.8 billion). The company is divided into five individual divisions, which are Industry, Buildings, IT, Technology and Governance. Schneider Electric’s Global Solutions department spans all five divisions to provide energy and sustainability services to its global client base.
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“Our mantra as an organization is to help customers to identify processes and target strategies for addressing sustainability and energy challenges. We then help them deploy bespoke technology solutions in order to address those challenges. In effect, we span the entire Schneider Group and help to deploy the resources across Schneider in the right way for the right type of company. That can be the PV division as part of a renewable energy strategy for a customer or any associated technology applications within that,” explains Andy Dewis, vice president of international solutions EMEIA.
Schneider Electric as a group focuses predominantly on two business segments - corporate clients and regions (governments, cities, districts and counties). In both instances the Global Solutions team helps identify energy and sustainability related challenges to deliver five to ten year plans for its clients. Alongside this the department also tracks major trends within the industry and feeds them back into its R&D and innovation team. In 2014 alone, the business invested €7.5 billion in research and tech development – a core focus of the business and one of its key differentiators. Schneider Electric is transitioning into a formidable technology company, with strategic focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), sustainability, and the knowledge economy through the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT).
Research, development and innovation
This year, Schneider Electric is focusing on a number of major industry trends including digitization, automation, building management and control systems. By developing state-of-the-art software solutions the company is able to extract value and combine all the data that exists for renewable and solar installations, thus driving efficiency for its commercial and residential clients.
“We are continually investing and innovating our tech solutions to drive more competition in the renewables, automation and energy sectors,” explains Dewis. “We are always reacting to customer needs and demands, while also looking to future demands and feeding that back to the huge R&D organization that we have. We also keep a very close rein on our service organization so we are continually changing, adapting and evaluating the types of services we offer. We constantly evaluate the type of people and resources we bring into the organization for and on behalf of our customers,” he says.
Developing world-class software solutions
Schneider Electric has a technology platform within its organization called Structureware, the whole theory behind it being that it will deliver value from the shop floor to the top floor. According to Dewis, the software being developed by the firm rivals the likes of IBM and Microsoft due to its targeted nature.
“For example, we are working with a large brewing company at the moment to measure resource intensity per bottle of beer produced. Through our software the company is able to manage very specific components related to energy consumption such as financial control, waste and output efficiency.
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“We are also working with a data company to develop software that will manage and operate large data centers on their behalf. Our software is helping them optimize their energy efficiency and consumption across a global portfolio of hundreds of data centers,” says Dewis.
The company even works with cities to optimize things like traffic light and security camera management through software and technology. The software has the ability to manage key metrics within a city. This could range from resource pressures or resource availability to commuter times. “Schneider Electric operates at the frontier of intelligent energy and urban efficiency. Our goal is to be the market leader in sustainability and efficiency software by leveraging the expertise of our 170,000 employees, to develop world-leading, bespoke solutions,” says Dewis.
Schneider Electric attributes much of its success to its HR and social programs. “We have a number of initiatives relating to skills development,” he says. In the Global Solutions team alone, there are wide ranges of skills from energy consultants to risk managers, people who manage commodities and volatility, traders and market price experts, engineers and technologists, process managers, installers and more. “We believe in giving our employees the tools they need to develop both professionally and personally,” says Dewis.
Furthermore, the business is looking to emerging markets to widen its global pool of talent. “We are looking to our emerging markets and economies and have a program called BipBop (Business Innovation at the Bottom of the Pyramid). As an example, we are currently training around 30,000 individuals in India in a whole host of different skills. This grows the talent pool of our community, our partner community and our associated companies, but it also grows the talent pool of our future employees in our growth markets,” explains Dewis.
Sustainable to its core
Schneider Electric is ranked as the 9th Most Sustainable Company on the Planet, and its vision it is to create a world where we can all do more while using less of our common planet.
From a philanthropic viewpoint, the company is whole-heartedly dedicated to being sustainable in every way. It has targets surrounding gender balance, ethnical balance and charitable giving, for example it recently started a scheme to bring energy to the world. It also has a scheme called the energy university – an online service, which is free to organizations, regions and the general public.
Looking to the future
So what does the future hold for Schneider Electric? “We are looking at future trends and how we can move forward in a more digital and resource constrained world,” explains Dewis. “We have a big focus on helping our customer be more connected through technology and through our people and the skills and services we provide.
“We then also have a challenge to try and address consumption in its most holistic form. We know that energy demand will come under constrain and we can see shifts in global population spending as middle incomes increase in the developing world – all these elements will effect where our resources go and that represents a challenges for our customers.
“We are focused on helping organizations understand how the lack of resources can affect them and how the impact of major shifts such as climate change are going to affect their organization. Ultimately we want to educate them to recognize a risk today as a potential opportunity tomorrow,” he says.
“Ultimately, we’re helping our customers do more with less - harming no one and benefitting everyone. We are trying to ensure we can sustain a level of quality, stability and sustainability in people’s lives and our customer’s organizations.” Dewis concludes.
Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage
Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.
Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:
- The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
- Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
- Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities
Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.
There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.
Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.
Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.
Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.
It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.